Support for all the dads
Being a dad of a child with additional support needs can be hard. No-one expects it. You may have to give up your dreams, or feel sad about the child you thought you’d have, before you can enjoy the child you have.
In the early days, it may be easier to deny that there is a problem. Unusual behaviour may be seen as ‘naughty’ or ‘lazy’. In fact, it may show that your child is having problems.
After you get a diagnosis, dads can face obstacles. People may expect that mum will be the care-taker/decision-maker. You might feel you have to be ‘strong’ or create ‘security’ for the family. You and your partner may process the news at different speeds, or disagree about what would be best for your child. This makes it harder to come together and support one another.
You may be working while your partner looks after your child, so you miss out on attending appointments and hearing directly from professionals. This can make you feel ‘left out’. But remember your partner is trying to take in complex information for the first time, but then has to relay it to you, and see your sadness or answer your questions. This is hard for them too.
Stresses like these can break up a relationship. Make a special effort to understand one another. Be patient and kind, and remember that you are both learning as you go along. There is lots of helpful information out there, but remember, only some of it will apply to your child. As you get to know your child, you will understand how to help them.
Where to start
We’d suggest the most useful thing you can do is ‘find your tribe’.
Get to know some other dads, online or in person, who are going through similar situations and know how you feel. Look for them in forums or at children’s clubs. Or simply be open about your situation and ask if anyone can help. Other dads will help you appreciate the unique joys of watching your child develop and grow.
Local Dads Group
(Also for all you grandads, step-fathers and more)
West Lothian has a very new dads’ group for dads of children with additional needs (March 2023). It is a group of dads who met at a Signpost dads’ information session.
You can contact email@example.com
The UK’s national charity for working parents and carers
Lots of information about work/life balance and rights for parents of children with a disability:
Support with Mental Health
A support organisation specifically for families which include a child with a disability – ’Listening ear’ service for emotional support – follow the link to book a session. CLICK HERE
The Campaign Against Living Miserably provides immediate 24/7 free and confidential help over the phone. They also organize campaigns that challenge male stereotypes and encourage getting support. Call 0800 58 58 58.
Encouragements for dads of ASN children:
Some thoughts about how to cope:
Warwick University Dads of Disabled Children Research Advisory Group
This series of videos was made by dads of children with ASN, discussing their situation & feelings.
You can view the videos in the tabs below, by clicking the links. The videos should open in a new window.